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Procedure : 2018/2156(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0372/2018

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Debates :

PV 10/12/2018 - 18
CRE 10/12/2018 - 18

Votes :

PV 11/12/2018 - 5.17
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Texts adopted
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Tuesday, 11 December 2018 - Strasbourg
Military mobility

European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2018 on military mobility (2018/2156(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the document entitled ‘Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe – A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’, presented by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on 28 June 2016,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 20 December 2013, 26 June 2015, 15 December 2016, 9 March 2017, 22 June 2017, 20 November 2017, 14 December 2017 and 28 June 2018,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 13 November 2017 and 25 June 2018 on security and defence in the context of the EU Global Strategy,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 7 June 2017 entitled ‘Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence’ (COM(2017)0315),

–  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and the VP/HR of 10 November 2017 on improving military mobility in the European Union (JOIN(2017)0041),

–  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and the VP/HR of 28 March 2018 on the Action Plan on Military Mobility (JOIN(2018)0005),

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/2315 of 11 December 2017 establishing permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) and determining the list of participating Member States(1),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 6 March 2018 concerning a roadmap for the implementation of PESCO(2),

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/340 of 6 March 2018 establishing the list of projects to be developed under PESCO(3),

–  having regard to the joint declarations by the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission and the Secretary-General of NATO of 8 July 2016 and of 10 July 2018, to the common sets of proposals for the implementation of the joint declarations endorsed by the EU and NATO Councils on 6 December 2016 and 5 December 2017, and to the progress reports on the implementation thereof of 14 June and 5 December 2017 and of 6 June 2018, including the relevant Council conclusions,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 5 December 2017 and 25 June 2018 on the implementation of the joint declarations,

–  having regard to the Brussels Declaration on Transatlantic Security and Solidarity and the NATO Brussels Summit Declaration, both of 11 July 2018,

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on the European Defence Union(4) and its resolution of 13 June 2018 on EU-NATO relations(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2017 on the implementation of the common security and defence policy (CSDP)(6),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0372/2018),

A.  whereas the basic values on which the EU is founded – democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law, as well as the rules-based international system and European unity, are being increasingly challenged in an era of geopolitical turbulence and degradation of the strategic environment;

B.  whereas credible deterrence, as well as planning for a response to crises and for the defence of continental Europe, depends on the ability to rapidly and efficiently deploy forces forward, including external allied forces;

C.  whereas the post-1989 ‘peace dividend’ saw the gradual erosion of defence needs in terms of infrastructure and mobility of forces across Europe;

D.  whereas the EU, in full cooperation with NATO, aims to act globally as a security provider, contributing to peace and stability both internally and externally and guaranteeing the security of its citizens and territory through a unique and wide array of policies, instruments and tools at its disposal to fulfil these ambitions;

E.  whereas, in line with the objectives of the Global Strategy, the EU is increasing its responsibility for its own security and defence and its role as a partner for international peace and security, in particular in its neighbourhood, but also beyond, as well as its strategic autonomy, based on the implementation of a common foreign and security policy;

F.  whereas the EU must develop its own strategic autonomy through an efficient foreign and security policy, in order to maintain peace, prevent conflicts and reinforce international security, while guaranteeing the security of its own citizens and the people involved in CSDP missions, with a view to protecting its interests and defending its founding values, all while contributing to effective multilateralism;

G.  whereas the EU must be able to decide and act without depending on third-party capacities if it is to build its own resilience and consolidate its strategic autonomy in the field of defence, the fight against terrorism and cybersecurity;

H.  whereas standardisation and interoperability at infrastructure and procurement level are key prerequisites for the achievement of strategic autonomy, the Defence Union and efficient military mobility;

I.  whereas effective military mobility can only be achieved with the full involvement and commitment of all Member States, cooperating effectively with NATO, taking into account each Member State’s available resources, needs and regional specificities and in a manner consistent with relevant EU-level initiatives with the purpose of building an efficient European infrastructure for security needs through coherent and complementary projects;

J.  whereas military mobility is a strategic and operational means of supporting military action, boosting the strategic autonomy of the Union and helping with the deployment and redeployment of, and support for, the Member States’ forces, with a view to achieving the EU’s military ambitions;

K.  whereas the EU is facing hybrid and multidirectional challenges, notably coming from the High North, the East, the Balkans and the South / Mediterranean; whereas a faster and smoother deployment of assets and goods on these axes (North-South, West-East) could be crucial to enable a credible response;

L.  whereas at the NATO Warsaw Summit in 2016 Allied leaders agreed to strengthen the Alliance’s Deterrence and Defence Posture, and have increased the readiness of response forces while having launched the ‘enhanced forward presence’ and ‘tailored forward presence’ to accomplish these goals;

M.  whereas military mobility is a concrete step that is designed to meet the EU’s specific security and defence needs, and one which forms part of the CSDP; whereas the collective security and defence of the EU Member States and their ability to intervene in crises abroad is fundamentally dependent on the ability to move allied troops and civilian crisis management personnel, material and equipment across each other’s territory and outside the EU freely and rapidly; whereas 22 EU Member States are also NATO allies and have a commitment to collective defence, possessing only a single set of armed forces and transport infrastructure; whereas the planned investments in transport infrastructure need to be better harmonised with security and defence needs;

N.  whereas a substantial number of obstacles, physical, legal and regulatory, often make these movements difficult by imposing significant delays, thus threatening to undermine their purpose, especially in crisis situations; whereas the European military exercises carried out under the auspices of NATO in recent years have shown the huge importance of suitable transport infrastructure for the success of military objectives;

O.  whereas the EU has substantial policies and tools at its disposal to help Member States meet their military mobility needs and international commitments;

P.  whereas on 28 March 2018 the Commission and the VP/HR published an Action Plan on Military Mobility, which provides a timetable for steps to be taken by the EU and its Member States; whereas implementation has commenced with the identification of common military requirements for military mobility within and beyond the EU and the presentation of a proposal for funding military mobility via the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) in the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), making it possible to fund projects pertaining to the dual use (civil and defence) of transport infrastructure;

Q.  whereas the Council conclusions of 25 June 2018 call on the Member States to take measures at national level to improve the effectiveness of military mobility and simplify the relevant rules and procedures in line with the Action Plan and military requirements applicable to military mobility in the Union and beyond, in accordance with the national legislation of the Member States, as soon as possible and not later than 2024;

R.  whereas a PESCO project on military mobility has been launched with a view to complementing the activities of the Commission and the VP/HR; whereas a further PESCO project on a network of logistic hubs in Europe and support to operations should complement this effort; whereas the purpose of enabling dual use of infrastructure is of the utmost importance for these logistical needs; whereas Member States have furthermore made commitments on military mobility as part of the more binding commitments required by the PESCO protocol; whereas PESCO projects should be developed in coordination with NATO; whereas there is a need for a PESCO project on the challenge of mobility as regards the military tasks set out in Article 43(1) of the TEU, in particular air and sea lift actions;

S.  whereas the CEF is a common, centrally managed funding programme designed to promote the development of a high-performing, sustainable, interconnected trans-European network (TEN) in the fields of transport, energy and digital services, focusing on facilitating cross-border connections and removing bottlenecks, and providing clear EU added value in facilitating transnational cooperation and coordination; whereas the draft MFF for the period 2021-2027 includes, under the CEF budget line for the transport sector, a new envelope dedicated to military mobility needs; whereas it is highly desirable to maintain and further increase the efficiency of the CEF;

T.  whereas the European Defence Agency is running several projects in the field of military mobility, on diplomatic clearances and on EU multimodal transport hubs, as well as the recently established ad hoc programmes on cross-border movement permission procedures and on harmonising customs-related military requirements; whereas the work of the European Defence Agency and the Commission must be coordinated in a clear and coherent manner to help the Member States finalise certain aspects of the Action Plan; whereas account is to be taken of the Member States’ needs, priorities and military requirements during a consultation process;

U.  whereas military mobility has recently been identified as a priority area for EU-NATO cooperation in the common set of proposals for the implementation of the joint declaration, and has been reaffirmed as a priority in the new joint declaration and in the Brussels Declaration on Transatlantic Security and Solidarity; whereas NATO has transmitted to the EU its standards relating to military mobility, including NATO’s generic parameters for transport infrastructure;

V.  whereas NATO is also focusing on improving its own logistical capabilities through the Enablement Plan for SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility, notably by adjusting legislation and procedures, enhancing command and control, increasing transport capabilities and upgrading infrastructure; notes in this context the establishment of two new commands, the Joint Force Command in Norfolk and the Joint Support and Enabling Command in Ulm;

W.  whereas three out of four framework nations which deploy forces in NATO’s enhanced forward presence on the eastern flank as of 2019 will be from outside of the EU; whereas permanent presence on the continent and transport of reinforcements from the US, Canada and the UK is decisive for Europe’s security;

X.  whereas enhanced pre-positioning of military logistic stocks, including munitions and fuel, will help alleviate some mobility pressures;

Y.  whereas, despite all these institutional measures, the main improvements in military mobility capabilities will have to come from EU Member States, which need to adjust their national infrastructure and regulatory environments; whereas this will require a whole-of-government approach owing to the broad range of issues that need to be tackled; whereas this common effort is to be implemented with full respect for the national decision-making procedures and constitutional requirements of EU Member States, while also taking into account military mobility requirements identified by EU-NATO cooperation;

Z.  whereas according to the Action Plan on Military Mobility and a pilot analysis initiated by the Estonian Presidency in 2017 for the countries of the North Sea-Baltic Corridor of the trans-European transport network showed that the maximum height clearance and weight tolerance of many road bridges is not sufficient for military vehicles and that there is insufficient loading capacity to move oversized military equipment by rail;

1.  Underlines that military mobility is a central strategic tool enabling the EU to pursue its security and defence interests effectively and in a complementary manner with other organisations such as NATO and should not be limited only to the removal of physical, legal and infrastructural obstacles; emphasises the need to improve military mobility for NATO’s rapid reinforcement capabilities, which would enhance our collective security and potentially increase the EU’s contribution to international security and stability; welcomes the fact that military mobility has recently gained a substantial level of attention from all relevant actors; notes that it enhances Europe’s preparedness and defence posture in the face of potential adversaries and crisis situations while helping to achieve the EU’s level of ambition in defence and security policy, including political, operational and industrial strategic autonomy;

2.  Stresses that the introduction of the Action Plan on military mobility in the Union is part of the major objective of improving mobility in the EU, and at the same time of responding to the logistics and mobility challenges set out in the CSDP; to that end, it is vital to harmonise cross-border standards and customs regulations, as well as administrative and legislative procedures; underlines that the role of EU joint ventures is vital for the harmonisation of administrative and legislative procedures, both for the CEF and for the Action Plan on military mobility; it is to be hoped that dual mobility will have positive effects on the development of the CEF, helping in budgetary matters and meeting new and future needs;

3.  Stresses that furthering the European Defence Union and building on strategic autonomy and self-resilience should not lead to increasing tensions in the relations of the EU with strategically relevant regional actors;

4.  Stresses that achieving military mobility in Europe is an undertaking derived first and foremost from the expressed commitment and political will of Member States, while the EU should contribute by guiding the process by setting a framework for requirements, providing funding, drafting protocols to facilitate the efficient movement of technical equipment and human resources, fostering cooperation and providing forums for an exchange of best practices, information and experiences involving both civilian and military authorities; emphasises that effective military mobility will benefit all Member States by enhancing their connectivity in both military and civilian spheres; stresses that the national decision-making procedures and constitutional roles of each Member State are to be respected;

5.  Emphasises the importance of promoting intersectoral cooperation (synergies) between the Member States in order to develop dual mobility that is efficient, interoperable, safe, multimodal, smart and sustainable and which meets the new challenges of the digitalisation of transport (auto-motion and connectivity) and of reliably fulfilling the EU's obligations and responsibilities in the field of dual (civil and defence) logistics, given its role as a global player;

6.  Strongly supports the Council’s call for Member States to develop national plans for military mobility by the end of 2019 and to give their implementation high priority; welcomes the other measures agreed in the Council conclusions in the context of the EU Global Strategy of 25 June 2018, and urges the Member States to meet the deadlines set therein; emphasises that successful efforts to foster military mobility would enable Member States to effectively pursue both their national and collective European defence planning and efficient participation in joint exercises, training and CSDP missions and operations;

7.  Emphasises the importance of crisis reaction mobility, i.e. the need to be rapid and efficient when deploying assets for missions and operations, so as to ensure that the EU maintains its standing as a reliable global security provider and peace actor and is able to deal effectively with natural disasters, humanitarian crises, the military tasks of Article 43(1) of the TEU as exemplified by the illustrative scenarios, and the implementation of the mutual assistance and solidarity clauses;

8.  Believes that an efficient military mobility policy will strengthen the EU’s CSDP missions, given their international dimension and their peace-keeping objective by increasing synergies between defence needs and will strengthen the EU’s capacity to respond to emergency situations and that humanitarian missions and natural disaster responses in the EU should also benefit from increased military mobility; notes that the type of missions which would most benefit from increased military mobility in the EU and beyond are in the field of collective defence and national or European crisis management missions and operations; stresses in this context that progress in this field will help those EU Member States that are also NATO members to meet their Article 5 commitments; emphasises the particular role played by the neutral Member States; recognises, however, that, under Article 42(7) of the TEU, EU Member States also have an unequivocal obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power if a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, consistent with commitments under NATO;

9.  Recognises the importance of a thorough analysis regarding which parts of the EU or Member States are more in need of military mobility investments and more exposed to the risk of external security threats;

10.  Acknowledges the complex nature of the challenge, involving, among other aspects, questions of infrastructure construction, common standards, transport regulations, customs, taxes, and movement permissions, as well as all levels of government from municipal administrations to international organisations; calls in this regard for frameworks to bring together both military and civilian actors at all levels, including from NATO and NATO partners, to discuss the relevant issues and thus ensure added value and effective coordination and implementation, and points out that in order to achieve the optimal outcome, Member States must invest in the joint training of administrative and institutional staff; welcomes the fact that the Commission has undertaken to explore options for standardising and simplifying customs procedures by the end of 2018; highlights that institutional cooperation among the Member States, organisations and agencies involved is key to ensuring the harmonisation of EU legislation; emphasises that there should be special coordination and exchange of experiences in the case of dual use of infrastructure for dangerous goods in order to prevent the risk of accidents while optimising safety across the network as a whole;

11.  Notes the significant decline in the quantity of rolling stock available, in particular of flatbed railcars, for moving heavy equipment and vehicles at short notice;

12.  Recognises that operating in such a complex environment creates numerous difficulties with regard to duplication and coordination, as well as with regard to expenditure, which could fundamentally threaten the overall project if not adequately managed; acknowledges that projects have already been run in the EU in the transport sector on the basis of dual cooperation, such as the Single European Sky project; calls on the Member States and the Commission to ensure a more efficient framework for cooperation; emphasises that in order to implement military mobility projects, greater collaboration between Member States will be required and it will be necessary to encourage cooperation between the civilian and military spheres; stresses the need for coordination with the projects on military mobility prepared within the framework of PESCO, as well as those taking place in the context of the European Defence Fund;

13.  Stresses therefore that an understanding of the common strategic purpose and the development of a common plan and cooperation among Member States is absolutely vital for success; highlights that coherent military planning is imperative for effective strategic autonomy, based on standardisation and interoperability of equipment and weaponry, as well as strategic doctrine and command and control processes; welcomes in this context the Action Plan on Military Mobility, which outlines concrete steps for different institutional actors and EU Member States and which recognises the strategic role played by the trans-European transport network; welcomes the commitments made by Member States;

14.  Regrets that the Action Plan fundamentally describes a bottom-up approach, with only a limited strategic vision of what concrete defence goals the EU is aiming to achieve through the various activities described in the Action Plan; deplores in this regard the continuing absence of an EU white paper on defence, which could have provided this overarching sense of purpose; believes nonetheless that the current approach has considerable merit and will serve the interests of all EU Member States, both neutral states and EU Member States in their role as NATO allies;

15.  Stresses that the ambitious timetable in the Action Plan should be adhered to, both by the EU institutions and by Member States, to ensure that the current mobility gaps are filled as soon as possible and the level of ambition in defence and security policy are achieved; welcomes the Action Plan’s calls to improve military mobility by taking into account hybrid threats, especially to transport and critical infrastructure, and to improve the resilience of transport infrastructure to hybrid threats;

16.  Notes the progress made in the development of military requirements for military mobility within and beyond the EU, in particular for dual-use infrastructure, and welcomes the close involvement of Member States at all stages of the process, the Netherlands’ leadership with respect to the PESCO project and the input provided by NATO;

17.  Welcomes the Commission proposal on the use of the CEF and the substantial funds envisaged for dual-use military mobility projects to ensure that infrastructure is adjusted to take into account dual-use needs; believes that dual use of infrastructure is an essential precondition for the civil transport network to benefit from the Action Plan and the military mobility envelope; sees the implementation of the Action Plan as an opportunity to enable the civilian transport network to benefit from increased network capacity and to foster multimodal connections; welcomes the calls to assess and adapt the trans-European transport network to cover identified military requirements that will be applied also to new civilian transport projects, especially airports, ports, motorways and railways as intermodal hubs in key corridors; points, therefore, to the need to establish – in cooperation with the Member States – a list of national infrastructures and corridors, taking account of the Member States’ specific military characteristics; notes that the development of dual-use projects should be sustainable and in line with environmental standards;

18.  Is of the opinion that, for the purpose of optimising the use of EU funds, any transport project of common interest financed by the CEF should integrate, if necessary, the military mobility requirements at the conception phase, in order to avoid unnecessary upgrading of the infrastructure at a later stage and therefore uneconomical use of funding; considers that any contribution from the CEF military mobility envelope should, whenever possible, give priority to multimodal projects, as they bring the most opportunities for dual use, and to cross-border projects as they contribute to addressing existing missing links and bottlenecks, which are the major current physical barriers to rapid and seamless mobility both for civilians and for the transfer of troops and heavy military equipment; stresses that the process of identifying the sections of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) suitable for military transport must unconditionally maximise civilian and military synergies and comply with the dual-use principle; believes that additional investment along the network could yield significant benefits for military mobility while contributing to the completion of the TEN-T core network by 2030 and the comprehensive network by 2050; underlines that it should be possible to use funding from the military mobility envelope for adapting transport infrastructure within both the core and the comprehensive TEN-T networks;

19.  Supports the decision to allocate the military mobility envelope under the centralised management of the CEF programme with a strict dual-use mobility objective; takes note of the preliminary actions set by the Action Plan; calls on the Commission to adopt, by 31 December 2019, delegated acts in order to further specify military requirements, list the parts of the TEN-T suitable for military transport, list priority dual-use infrastructure projects, and set out the assessment procedures regarding the eligibility of the actions connected with military mobility and award criteria;

20.  Recalls that several technologies used in the defence sector have been successfully translated into the civilian sector; highlights that the deployment of an intelligent transport system relying on telematic application systems such as ERTMS and SESAR and the uptake of Galileo/EGNOS/GOVSATCOM-related technologies represent one of the most challenging opportunities ahead for the civilian transport sector; considers, therefore, that future revisions of the Action Plan should ultimately explore the possibility for civilian transport to exploit military responses to those challenges, for instance in the field of cybersecurity and secure communication; calls for further measures to increase cooperation and trust between cybersecurity and defence actors and to enhance cooperation as part of PESCO; underlines the need to continue developing a joint network on countering hybrid threats so as to ensure the resilience of those infrastructures which are strategic in light of the work to improve military mobility in the EU; stresses the importance of the ongoing efforts of the EU institutions to update the dual-use export control regulation;

21.  Recognises the value of potential proposals on regulating the transport of dangerous goods for military use, updating the EU customs code, and adapting VAT rules;

22.  Welcomes the exchange of information and best practices between military and civilian actors in this regard, and emphasises the need to work jointly to establish common ground for regulating the transport of dangerous goods for military use;

23.  Notes that the Action Plan identifies a considerable number of tasks that need to be accomplished at Member-State level, to which end the European Defence Agency and the Commission are to provide support and guidance for their swift and efficient implementation; recalls the need for a customs and tax regulatory framework, in particular with regard to VAT; emphasises in particular the importance of achieving harmonised rules for cross-border movement permissions, which are a major obstacle to rapid movements; considers that Member States should work together to maximise the effectiveness of cross-border dual use and to reduce administrative costs; supports, in that context, the ambition to speed up border crossing times by 2019, and – with that aim in mind – for diplomatic authorisations for land, sea and air movements to be issued within five days, and for that deadline to be even shorter for rapid reaction units;

24.  Supports the decision made by the Member States participating in PESCO to include military mobility on the initial list of 17 priority projects to be developed within the PESCO framework; emphasises in this context that the PESCO project on military mobility could constitute a useful tool for coordinating the efforts of Member States envisaged in the Action Plan, as well as other activities beyond the EU’s immediate competences; believes that this division of labour, accompanied by proper coordination, is vital if the PESCO project is to provide added value; welcomes also the more binding commitments on simplifying cross-border military transport made in the PESCO notification; calls on the Member States to actively take part in the PESCO military mobility project;

25.  Underlines the importance of duly informing and involving local communities with regard to the planning and impact of major military mobility infrastructure;

26.  Underlines that, ultimately, the EU can only supplement Member States’ efforts; stresses that success fundamentally relies on Member States’ acceptance of and ability to implement a whole-of-government approach to tackle the relevant issues; underlines the importance of the Member States’ political commitment to making effective military mobility in the EU and beyond a reality; underlines that to succeed, military mobility will require cooperation and coordination with all NATO allies;

27.  Welcomes the new joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation and the Brussels Declaration on Transatlantic Security and Solidarity, and the emphasis that both place on military mobility issues; welcomes also NATO’s new initiatives, particularly the Enablement Plan for SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility; welcomes NATO’s work on ensuring military mobility in this respect and urges both the EU and NATO to prevent unnecessary duplication of efforts; underlines the importance of ports as points linking the EU with its NATO allies and for intra-European short-distance maritime transport links; emphasises the importance of transparency and communication about EU defence initiatives, including PESCO, to the United States and other NATO allies in order to avoid any misconceptions, and welcomes the EU defence initiatives for strengthening the European pillar within the NATO Alliance;

28.  Urges, therefore, the EU, its Member States and NATO to intensify their cooperation and coordination, including by using funds for common projects, increasing political flexibility, formalising the EU-NATO relationship, expanding the areas of cooperation and sharing information more broadly, where in the security interests of the EU, so as to ensure that synergies are achieved; expresses hope that the obstacles to sharing classified information between the two bodies will be cleared as soon as possible to enable this closer cooperation;

29.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU agencies in the field of defence, the NATO Secretary-General, and the governments and parliaments of both EU and NATO member states.

(1) OJ L 331, 14.12.2017, p. 57.
(2) OJ C 88, 8.3.2018, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 65, 8.3.2018, p. 24.
(4) OJ C 224, 27.6.2018, p. 18.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA_(2018)0257.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0492.

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